I have to admit I'm not usually a fan of Christmas episodes. They're a little too sickly for my tastes. Too much good will to all men going on, and not nearly enough maniacal Santas trying to blow up London with mortar-launching tubas. So imagine my joy when a sanity-challenged Santa showed up after the first 15 minutes! His musical weapon of choice? You've guessed it. Which can only mean that Russell T. Davies has been reading my Christmas wish list.
Although the events of 'The Parting of the Ways,' The Children In Need Special and 'The Christmas Invasion' span a period of six months for us, for Rose they happened in a day. In her world, she's only just back from defeating the Daleks, with a broken Doctor in tow, and a broken heart to boot. The Doctor's regeneration has left her in a state of near bereavement. The old Doctor's gone. His memories are still there, but his exterior's completely different. He's a new man—a curious mixture of the familiar and the unknown, a combination that even the Doctor finds himself struggling to cope with. Who is he exactly? What new characteristics did his regeneration imbue him with?
I thought Billie was exceptional this week. Rose is a tough role for an inexperienced actress, but I felt genuinely moved as she wept in her mother's arms ('He's gone. The Doctor's gone. He left me, Mum. He left me'). And her joy was unmistakable when she saw the Doctor emerge from his TARDIS: from the girlish smile which escaped her lips as he tipped her a wink ('Am I sexy?'), to her verbal confirmation that he's still the Doctor.
And bless her for trying to save the earth on her own. Her pleas were half-arsed, essentially meaningless phrases stolen from her adventures and randomly pieced together in a defiant warning to the Sycorax—but there was no denying her bravery. The situation called for a hero and Rose didn't think twice before taking on the role of Earth's protector. As she pointed out to Mickey, the threat of certain death wouldn't have stopped the Doctor. And she's right—it wouldn't.
We got a reversal of form too this week—the Doctor turned out to be the hero of the piece, for once. The shape of things to come maybe? I certainly hope so. I've been impressed by the new Doctor so far. He was only onscreen for a third of the episode (and his 'fighting hand' was as weak as a kitten's paw), but he was funny, slightly gone in the head, and had an undeniable edge. So full marks to David Tennant for ticking all the right boxes.
Another noticeable difference in the Doctor's mental makeup is that he doesn't seem to dislike Jackie or Mickey as much as his prior incarnation. Throwing his arms around them and wishing them a Merry Christmas? Sharing Christmas dinner? I doubt Eccleston's Doctor would ever have worn a paper hat. And even Jackie seemed to warm to his new form. It was touching to see her sitting alone at his bedside, talking with him, wanting to help, but not knowing how. So his people skills are certainly sharper than they were a week ago. Eccleston's Doctor undoubtedly loved humankind, but smooth interaction with them was never his strong suit.
And some lovely closing dialogue between Rose and the Doctor. The uncertainty of the Children In Need Special was back, but the indecision is long gone. So after a rather festive, snowy, closing scene, we're back on track again—and with a brand new series just around the corner, what could be grander?
—I loved the Doctor's comment about Arthur Dent. Fans of Douglas Adams' novel The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy will no doubt have recognized the name (and possibly the dressing gown).
—If the TARDIS' landing was that audible, why is it that only Mickey and Jackie ran out into the street? It's not as if the TARDIS sounds like a bin wagon—it has a rather unique sound—but the streets were deserted.
—When the Sycorax ship flew over London, it looked like someone holding a rock over a shot of Google Earth.
—At the end of the episode 'World War Three', the Doctor commented that one day Harriet Jones would be Prime Minister. Looks like he was right. And a nice bit of continuity too from 'Aliens Of London'—Big Ben still has scaffolding around it, no doubt after being wrecked by a plummeting space ship.
—Did everyone recognize the lyrics from Circle Of Life?
'From the day we arrive on the planet,—How on earth did those baubles stay on the spinning Christmas tree? And the hole it left in the wall looked like something out of Tom and Jerry.
And blinking, step into the sun,
There's more to see than can ever be seen,
More to do than can ever be done.'
—Let's be honest. What tragedy in life can't be solved by a lovely cup of tea?
—Harriet Jones asked Major Blake to contact Torchwood—our first reference of the new season.
Rose: 'Both working.'
Jackie: 'What do you mean both?'
Rose: 'Well, he's got two hearts.'
Jackie: 'Oh, don't be stupid.'
Rose: 'He has!'
Jackie: 'Anything else he's got two of?'
Rose: 'The thing is, I thought I knew him, Mum. I thought me and him were... and then he goes and does this. I keep forgetting he's not human.'
Mickey: 'Well, that's the thing, isn't it? You can rely on me. I don't go changing my face.'
Doctor: 'I need you to shut up!'
Jackie: 'Oh, he hasn't changed that much, has he?'
Doctor: 'Why's there an apple in my dressing gown?'
Jackie: 'That's Howard's. Sorry.'
Doctor: 'He keeps apples in his dressing gown?'
Jackie: 'He gets hungry.'
Doctor: 'What? He gets hungry in his sleep?'
Doctor: 'Look at these people. These human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet, and blinking, step into the sun. There is more to see than can ever be seen. There is more to do than... no, hold on. Sorry. That's The Lion King. But the point still stands.'
Rose: 'And what about you? What are you going to do next?'
Doctor: 'Well, back to the TARDIS. Same old life.'
Rose: 'On your own?'
Doctor: 'Why, don't you want to come?'
Rose: 'Well, yeah.'
Doctor: 'Do you, though?'
Doctor: 'Well, I just thought, 'cause I'd changed.'
Rose: 'Yeah, I thought cause you'd changed, you might not want me any more.'
Doctor: 'Oh, I'd love you to come.'